The hard facts on immigration

Concerns about immigration have been widely reported in coverage of the Rochester and Strood by-election. Mark Reckless found himself at odds with his new party’s official position when he appeared to suggest that he favoured repatriating European workers who had settled in Britain. A recent opinion poll suggests that repatriation has the support of 1 in 4 of the electorate. Certainly in Rochester and Strood, Mr Reckless’ comments have won him some support. The Buzz Feed news tracked down a number of voters in the constituency who were unashamed to admit that they would like at least some immigrants to go home. “I like the idea of sending them back” said a Mr Gilkes, who admitted that talk of repatriation had made him more likely to vote UKIP. According to The Times, research by YouGov has found that 90% of UKIP voters are likely to say immigration has been bad for Britain and 58% that immigration has been bad for them and their families.

While some commentators on the Left are horrified that anyone can express opinion like this in 2014, they are naïve to think that passing equality and diversity legislation alters the way people think – particularly in the face of immigration on such an unprecedented scale. Given that the same YouGov survey found that 55% of all voters consider immigration to have been bad for Britain, it is unsurprising that both the Tories and Labour have been toughening up their rhetoric and talking of restricting either benefits of immigrants or immigration itself in an attempt to stem the flow of support for UKIP.

Of course, immigration is not just an EU-related issue, although we do have the power to restrict immigration from outside the EU. However, even if non-EU migration was stopped totally, it would not allay the anger about child benefit being paid to workers from the EU whose family remain in their native country nor the money being paid to unemployed foreigners.

So what options does David Cameron have when it comes to persuading the rest of the EU to change the rules? Our Prime Minister is no doubt aware that concern about immigration is one of the big factors likely to increase support for EU withdrawal. The Open Europe think tank, although taking a totally opposite line from the Campaign from an Independent Britain on whether we should leave the EU, has recently posted a helpful analysis. A paper by Stephen Booth and Professor Damian Chalmers suggests that it would be possible within existing EU treaties to restrict access to benefits, social housing and publicly funded apprenticeships for their first three years in the UK. They also propose that while EU citizens would have a right to access public healthcare within their host country, for the first three years, the costs would be borne by their state of nationality. David Cameron is widely believed to be on close terms to Open Europe, so these suggestions may well be points he seeks to renegotiate.

However, they do not address the big issue for many voters, which is to end the right of citizens from other member states to live and work elsewhere in the EU. Open Europe reckons that even an “emergency brake” – a temporary cap on migration levels will be a challenge. “He may just achieve it,” says their blog, as “there are precedents for brakes in other areas in the EU treaties and there is increasing awareness across the Continent that public concern about free movement is contributing to the EU’s unpopularity.” However, going beyond this – for instance insisting on permanent quotas on the number of EU migrants or introducing a points-based system – is likely to be one step too far. To quote Open Europe again, “it would involve fundamentally rewriting the EU treaties and unpicking one of the founding principles of EU membership. There is likely to be little or no political appetite for such a move among other EU countries.” Given that Angela Merkel, the most powerful political leader in the EU has said that she would rather see the UK leave the EU than compromise on the principle of free movement of people, it is very apparent that David Cameron’s hands are tied before the serious attempts at renegotiation have even begun. If the British electorate is determined to bring to an end the principle of free movement of people, then withdrawal from the EU is the only way whereby their wishes can be granted.

Having said that, withdrawal will not automatically give us total immediate control of our borders, assuming we withdraw by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and remain within the European Economic Area. We could certainly follow the example of Liechtenstein, which has availed itself of the right to restrict residency of EU citizens under Articles 112, 113 and Protocol 15 (articles 5-7) of the EEA agreement, but it would only a restriction, not a complete end to the rights of some EU citizens to move to the UK. The EEA route may therefore not satisfy the more strident opponents of free movement, but it is not only the least disruptive method of securing withdrawal from the EU but also the best option to present in any future referendum if we wish to secure an “out” vote. Furthermore, remaining in the EEA is viewed by most of its advocates as an interim state for the UK while a looser longer-term relationship is negotiated. Of course, dealing with the issue of free movement in these negotiations will be up to the government of that day. Any discussion of this subject would need to take into consideration the concerns not only of the indigenous UK population but also the UK EU-resident UK expatriate community, who may not take too kindly to being presented with the alternative of either returning to cold, grey Britain or becoming citizens of Spain, France or wherever.

In this article, CIB has sought to set out what our options will be. The Organisation recognises the concerns felt by many but has no official position apart from a firm belief that, as in other areas of national sovereignty, policy on immigration should be determined by a democratically elected British parliament and not by the EU.

A voice from the past still locked in the past

Following on from Gordon Brown emerging from oblivion to rescue the “No” campaign in Scotland, Sir John Major has returned from obscurity to tell a foreign affairs think tank in Germany that there was a 50/50 chance of our country leaving the EU. On that he was probably right. Those of us who desire such an outcome recognise that we’re a long way from having it in the bag. It’s going to be a long, hard battle to secure “Brexit”. However, our former Prime Minister was profoundly wrong when we went on to say that our country would sink to a much lower level of relevance if we left the EU. How relevant are we? It is actually quite bizarre that other nations see us as relevant at all when you think how little power we really have. This has been all too cruelly exposed by the recent demand by the European Commission for the UK to pay an extra €2.1 billion into the EU budget. David Cameron’s initial response was to state he would refuse, but this proved to be only grandstanding. At the end of the day, although George Osborne claims to have negotiated a reduction, the bottom line is that when a foreign, unelected bureaucracy tells us to cough up more money, we are powerless to tell it where to go. There are countless other examples of our powerlessness. We don’t have the freedom to strike our own free trade agreements with other countries – indeed, we don’t even have the freedom to determine how our bananas should be labelled!

The idea that you can only be relevant in the modern world by giving up the power to govern yourself seems very odd when viewed from an international perspective. It has certainly not caught on outside Europe. China, Japan, Australia, Canada, Russia and the USA – to name just a few – have no desire to “pool” their sovereignty with their neighbours and who can blame them when they look at the EU and the ongoing crisis in the Eurozone?

So it’s understandable that many in the UK are distinctly unimpressed with the EU – even if many people still have no idea that the objective has always been to create a federal superstate – an United States of Europe. If our politicians were urging us to join the EU now, it is inconceivable that they would win a majority in favour of accession. However, we’re in and the difficult bit is how to devise a foolproof strategy to get us out which will preserve our trading arrangements and avoid job losses in the short term. Thankfully, a number of eminent researchers including Dr Richard North and Robert Oulds of the Bruges Group have put in some considerable work on creating a “road map” and it is definitely feasible. Once we are out, we will actually become more relevant in the world. We are still likely to remain one of the biggest 10 economies in the world for a good few years to come and will be free to redirect our trade towards the world’s growing economies instead of being so tied to the sclerotic eurozone. The use of English as the common language of world commerce will still work to our advantage and we can repeal countless EU-inspired rules and regulations that inhibit our attractiveness for foreign investors. We will not need to become involved in overseas problems of no real interest to us such as the current conflict in Ukraine. We could use our weight to reinvigorate EFTA, the European Free Trade Association, as a genuine free trade-only alternative to the EU. Our finance industry in the City could resume the levels of growth seen before regulation was handed over to Brussels by Gordon Brown when he signed the Lisbon Treaty so we could once again be a world leader in this field, alongside Hong Kong and Singapore. We could also determine who (if anyone) should be allowed into this country rather than being forced by the EU to open our borders to all and sundry from 27 other countries, some of whom we have very little in common with.

In short, the EU, like John Major, is past its sell-by date. It was brought to birth in the post-war era when it was believed that big international institutions could solve all the world’s problems. Time has showed that these institutions and the unelected “experts” that lead them have instead become part of the problem. Re-establishing our national sovereignty will therefore be shaking off an encumbrance – an event akin to the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe 25 years ago. Like those momentous scenes in 1989, withdrawal would be an occasion for celebration and in no way would it herald any reduction in our relevance as a nation on the world stage. Let us ignore the John Majors of this world, locked into an obsolete mindset. The future is freedom. The future is independence.

Cameron’s Government confirms its £50 billion spend on EU membership

Lord StoddartFROM THE PRESS OFFICE OF THE LORD STODDART OF SWINDON (Independent Labour)

In response to a written question from the independent Labour Peer, Lord Stoddart of Swindon (Hansard 17.11.14), the Government has confirmed that by the end of the current financial year, it will have spent more than £50 billion (net) on contributions to the EU budget, since David Cameron came to power.

Responding for the Government, the Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, Lord Deighton said: ‘The United Kingdom’s net contributions to the EU Budget over the period 2009-10 to 2013-14 were £41.1 billion. The current forecast for 2014-15 by the Office for Budget Responsibility is £9.1 billion.’

Commenting on the Government’s response, Lord Stoddart said: “As ever with EU costs, the figures are colossal. We must put this enormous figure against the austere background of the last 4-5 years, in which we have seen public services cut to the bone and standards of living fall as people have lost their jobs or faced long term pay freezes.

“We also have to put it against a background of a Government that is always telling us it wants to cut the cost of the EU. The reality is that the costs are constantly rising and the EU is ever greedy for more, as we have seen with its outrageous recent demand for an extra £1.7 billion. £50 billion on belonging to the EU, an organisation whose objectives are inimical to our long term interests and which does so much damage to our Parliamentary democracy and economic future is simply not sustainable.”

The full text of Lord Stoddart’s question and the Government’s reply is as follows:

Hansard 17.10.14

EU Budget: Contributions

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the total amount of the United Kingdom net contributions paid to the European Union budget in the years 2010–13 inclusive; what is the estimated total for 2014; and how those contributions are financed. [HL2610]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton) (Con): The United Kingdom’s net contributions to the EU Budget over the period 2009-10 to 2013-14 were £41.1 billion. The current forecast for 2014-15 by the Office for Budget Responsibility is £9.1 billion.

All data can be found in Table C.1 of HM Treasury’s Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses of July 2014.

Contributions to the EU Budget are financed from Traditional Own Resources (mainly customs duties and sugar levies), contributions based on a hypothetical harmonised VAT base, and Gross National Income based contributions.

The EAW opt-in – another government omnishambles and a very dangerous one

Has anyone in the government come out well from the fiasco in Parliament last Monday over the European Arrest Warrant (EAW)? Certainly not Prime Minister David Cameron or Theresa May, the Home Secretary.

When the Lisbon Treaty was signed, the UK secured an opt-out on 133 law and order measures, but Mrs May stated her intention for the UK to opt back into 35 of them, including DNA sharing and the EAW. These 35 are the important ones. The other 100 or so are of little importance. A number of Tory MPs have long been concerned about the impact of the opt-in and have pushed hard for the House of Commons to be allowed to vote on the opt-in. It was very clear to Mrs May that a substantial number of MPs opposed the opt-in. However, subsequent one-to-one talks halved the number of “rebels” from 100 to about 50. With Labour support, the measure could have gone through, but at the last minute, it was announced that the only vote to be allowed last Monday would cover 11 of the measures but not the EAW. The Speaker, John Bercow, called it “sorry saga” and Jacob Ress-Mogg, a staunch opponent of the EAW, said this was “fundamentally underhanded”. Another Tory MP, Sir Richard Shepherd, stood on his feet and asked why the MPs were there, and what was the purpose? The parliamentary session on Monday descended into an angry farce.

A number of senior policemen have argues that the EAW is essential to protect the public from criminals. So why were so many Tory MPs uncomfortable? Simple. Surrendering more power to Brussels is too high a price to pay for making it easy to extradite criminals to and from other countries. Prior to the Lisbon Treaty, all EU crime and policing laws were dealt with “inter-governmentally”. However, the architects of the Treaty were keen to place these measures under the remit of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and the enforcement powers of the European Commission. In spite of apparent concessions which the government claims to have gained, there is still a threat that UK citizens may be extradited to another country and charged for an offence that is not a crime in our country. We cannot be confident that the legal process in some other EU member states operates to the standards to which we have been accustomed, even though the presumption of innocence is written into the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The EAW is likely to see more incidents like the fiasco in 2001 when 12 innocent British aircraft spotters were arrested in Greece on a charge of spying. Do we want any more UK citizens to go through the ordeal faced by Deborah Dark? This victim of European “justice” was arrested at gunpoint while on holiday in Turkey in 2007, as the French authorities had issued an EAW seeking her extradition on drug smuggling charges of which she had been acquitted 18 years earlier. She was released and returned to the UK, but although Westminster magistrates refused a subsequent extradition request from France, believing there was no case to answer, she could face re-arrest if ever she travelled on the Continent. Only a couple of weeks ago, Rory Gray found himself in court courtesy of the EAW after being sued by a foreign doctor. In 2008 an inquest found that Mr Gray’s father, David Gray, was unlawfully killed in 2008 after Dr Daniel Ubani, a Nigerian-born Germany citizen who was working as an out-of-hours locum GP, fatally administered 10 times the normal dose of diamorphine. The doctor was struck off the medical register in the UK. Mr Gray and his brother, Stuart, interrupted a medical conference in Germany, calling Ubani a “charlatan”, “killer” and “animal”. Now a court in Lindau, Germany, has ruled that Gray must pay three-quarters of the legal costs, running into thousands of pounds, and to write Ubani a letter promising never to call him an animal again. It has also threatened him with a £200,000 fine if he repeats the insult. Thanks to the EAW, more such absurdities could happen in the future.

If more people were aware of how many safeguards in our legal system are absent in those of many European countries, last Monday’s rebellion would have been even worse. In the UK, we are far better protected against false accusation, arbitrary arrest and wrongful imprisonment than our continental neighbours. Under our Common Law, defendants have a right to silence. No one may be tried in absentia – in other words without being present in court. Press coverage is restricted when a case is sub judice so as not to prejudice a fair trial. Most importantly, except where terrorism is involved, any person who is arrested must be charged in open court within 24 hours of arrest. Crucially, the ‘charge’ has to be backed by prima facie evidence as opposed to hearsay. Even when the suspect is thought to have committed murder, detention without charge may only be extended, with the permission of magistrates, to a maximum of 96 hours.

Even the Pro-EU Open Europe think tank has pointed out that by maintaining an opt-out, the government “could have provided the basis for Britain to negotiate a new deal, perhaps using a bilateral UK-EU treaty, thus solving some of the underlying concerns.” In the short term, again to quote Open Europe, we would have had to “fall back on previous arrangements that were slower, less reliable and therefore may allow some criminals to escape justice.” But were the previous arrangements so bad? Petrina Holdsworth, the Chairman of CIB and a lawyer by profession, doesn’t think so. “It was perfectly straightforward,” she said. “If we were satisfied that we had an extradition treaty with the requesting country, the correct person, evidence to support a prima facie case against that person and the offence for which the suspect was sought was an offence in the UK then the suspect was extradited. The suspect had the right to be represented and the Stipendiary Magistrate had the duty to consider all the legal arguments put before him by both sides. OK it took up a bit of court time but it worked and we all felt that it was a proper system.”

CIB’s President, George West, was recently told by a policemen that “we wouldn’t be supporting these powers if politicians didn’t keep pushing free movement and EU expansion.”

David Cameron has not come out well from this fiasco. He promised a vote to MPs, and then denied them the chance of voting on the measure which really counted. Once again “Cast-Iron Dave” has broken his word. He cannot be trusted, although in a sense, his behaviour comes as no surprise. A while ago, he also talked of wanting to renegotiate our relationship with the EU so that “UK police forces and justice systems are able to protect British citizens, unencumbered by unnecessary interference from the European institutions” but he and his Home Secretary have pursued a totally opposite course. Political objectives, no doubt accompanied by sheer laziness on the part of senior policemen and MPs have allowed the EU to drive another nail into our ancient liberties. Labour has announced that it will attempt to stage a fresh vote on the warrant on the day before the Rochester & Strood by-election – a cynical ploy as much as anything. Also, a legal challenge has been mounted by Stuart Wheeler and Jacob Ress-Mogg. “The failure of the Government to give the vote it promised makes it easier for the courts to judge against [the warrant’s] legality because there was no clear endorsement by Parliament. Courts in general don’t like to go against what Parliament has voted on”, said Mr Rees-Mogg. CIB wishes them well, but if the court case is thrown out, the only way out of this dangerous impingement on our liberties is for us to leave the EU. Only thus can our police once again be the protectors of our liberties. They are currently slowly being converted into the agents of a foreign state.

The scandal of the EU’s Kosovo mission

According to the EU Observer, there have been some distinctly dodgy goings on at Eulex, the EU’s “rule of law” mission in Kosovo. And senior figures from the EU foreign service have refused to answer questions from MEPs about what is going on.

Kosovo has not featured much in the news in recent years. Following the war of 1999, it declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and has been recognised as an independent country by a number of countries, including the UK. However, Russia, China and Serbia have refused to do so.

However, due to the fragile situation in the country, it still requires a helping hand. The EU, always keen to interfere where it can, created Eulex in December 2008, to assume responsibilities in the areas of police, customs and the judiciary. It employs 1,600 policemen, judges, and prosecutors seconded from around Europe and is by far the EU’s biggest foreign crisis mission

According to the Kosovo daily Koha Ditore, top Eulex officials took bribes from Kosovo gangsters to block prosecutions, colluded with criminal suspects and quashed internal Eulex probes. It also reported that Eulex gave classified information to Serbian intelligence services.

Some members of the EU’s foreign affairs committee have proposed that Olaf, the EU’s anti-fraud office, should look into these allegations.

Allegations of corruption within Eulex go back to 2012, when a British prosecutor called Maria Bamieh was suspended on the grounds that she leaked information to the press. Responding to questions about the recent allegations, she said that Eulex’ internal investigation is a “lie … a complete joke” because key suspects are not being questioned and are still being allowed to work on sensitive cases.

Perhaps the most interesting comment on the whole affair came from Tonino Picula, a centre-left Croatian MEP who said, “The reputation of the European Union on Kosovo is at stake”.

What reputation? Given its dodgy dealings in Ukraine, the EU’s reputation when it comes to foreign affairs can’t fall much lower. Its dealings in Kosovo are simply par for the course.

UCL report is no vindication for the principle of free movment of people

Professor Christian Dustmann and Tommaso Frattini of University College London published a study of the effects of immigration on the UK. Their conclusions were that non-EU migrants were a drain on public finances but those coming from Eastern Europe are actually contributing more to the exchequer than they receive in benefits. QED, argue supporters of free movement; unfettered intra-EU migration is a good thing for the UK.

Well, not necessarily. Take, for instance, the report’s findings that a higher percentage of migrants from Eastern Europe are in employment than native-born Brits. There is no doubt that our agricultural sector has provided employment for many hard-working migrants from Eastern Europe prepared to put in long hours for low pay in conditions that many UK-born workers would not tolerate. However, not all Polish and Romanian immigrants work on farms. Some are van drivers, some work in the catering industry – jobs which UK workers could equally well do. As Tim Congdon has shown in his booklet Europe Doesn’t Work, immigration from Eastern Europe has definitely destroyed jobs for the UK-born population.

Furthermore, with the workers often come their families, or if the family doesn’t come, the worker is able to claim child benefit and send the money back to his home. David Cameron has admitted that he is powerless to do anything about the sum of at least £15 million in child benefit payments which is sent every year to Poland. Free from the EU, we could address labour shortages with a system of work permits which would not confer any right to benefits or residential rights for family members. We would not be required to allow anyone who did not have a job to come here. We could also deport foreign criminals, which we are currently unable to do if they are citizens of an EU member state.

Finally, one must ask the question as to whether economic considerations are the be-all and end-all. In other words, does the positive benefit to the Treasury as a result of migration from Eastern Europe outweigh all other considerations? To answer this question, it is worth recalling that the objective of the European Union is to create a United States of Europe. It always has been and always will be. The former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl reminded us all of this fact when he launched his recent book on Europe Aus sorge um Europa (Worrying about Europe), stating that Europe should move ahead with a policy of closer ties with courage and determination. “Our future is Europe,” he said. In order to build the European superstate, it is necessary to undermine the homogeneity of the populations of the nation states. This sounds like dark conspiracy theory, but in actual fact the Irishman Peter Sutherland, a former European Commissioner who now works at the UN as their special representative for migration, has been quite open about it. Speaking to the House of Lords EU home affairs sub-committee two years ago, he said, “The United States, or Australia and New Zealand, are migrant societies and therefore they accommodate more readily those from other backgrounds than we do ourselves, who still nurse a sense of our homogeneity and difference from others…and that’s precisely what the European Union, in my view, should be doing its best to undermine.”

Sutherland is wrong, dangerously wrong. Replace a largely homogeneous population with a multi-cultural mish-mash and all manner of problems will result. Josef Stalin moved large numbers of ethnic Russians to the Baltic states of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia in the years following the Second World War. It has left a bitter legacy, with the ethnic Russians forming their own political parties in Latvia and demanding Russian be treated as a second official language in the country. Further afield, Brazil, an ethnic melting pot if ever there was one, has a homicide rate 80 times higher than ethnically homogeneous Japan. In his ground-breaking book The Diversity Illusion, Ed West argues that “Throughout history less homogenous societies have tended to require a harsher criminal justice system”. Do we want to preserve our freedoms and to enjoy the blessings of a small state? We therefore would be better off without hundreds of thousands of immigrants that feel no sense of identity with our culture and traditions. Again, to quote West, “The national community is the only environment in which democracy has thrived, for democracy requires a citizenry that feels itself to be part of the political process…. National history and national identity promote trust and solidarity within a society, something that liberal ideals fail to do.”

Seventy five years ago, we fought a war against an aggressive tyrant. It cost us immensely, not only economically but in terms of lost lives. However, it preserved our nation and its freedom and most people consider the price to have been worth paying. We are not required to fight any war at the moment, but if there is an economic cost to restricting migration in order to preserve as much homogeneity as we can in the UK, it too may be a price well worth paying.